Already in Heaven – Dinner @ Hakkasan, London

After a huge weekend of eating out, it was only right to end the weekend on an absolute culinary high. Hakkasan is one restaurant that we have been meaning to try for a while, and when our good friend Eddie asked we suggest somewhere to go to celebrate his birthday, we didn’t even hesitate to suggest Hakkasan.

Strangely Hakkasan is a modern Chinese restaurant – the first Oriental restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. It’s not strange that it has a Michelin star, but rather the fact that the name of the restaurant sounds particularly Japanese. In fact Alan Yau (brain of Wagamama and ruler of fine London oriental dining), named the restaurant after the Chinese dialect “Hakka” and Japanese “San” – a name suffix.

Entering the restaurant is a little bit of a task it itself. Lucky we had Sam, as the discreet entrance is only noticeable due to a few bouncers and hostesses freezing in the cold. After a zoom down a few flights of stairs we entered the Hakkasan lair – and my gosh was it just beautiful. A silly no camera policy restricted photo taking, but a quick visit to Hakkasan’s website should speak for itself.

We were shown into the “Ling Ling” dining room for dinner, and after being greeted by some familiar faces (well for Sam at least), happily sipped on Louis Roderer whilst analysing the menu.

After listening to Sam’s run down of the entire menu, we decided on our 4 starters – Crispy Duck Salad, Steamed Diver scallops in XO sauce, Salt & Pepper Squid, Dim Sum Platter; and our 3 mains – Lobster with egg noodles, Roasted Silver (Black) Cod in Champagne and Chinese Honey, and Three Style Mushroom stir fried with macadamia nut.

The starters. OMG.

First dish to arrive was the Crispy Duck salad. The duck was roasted to a crisp, was moist, without fat and really flavoursome. The shredded duck was mixed with a minature leaf salad and together, was so light, tender and exactly what I had in mind when I ordered the Crispy Duck salad.

The steamed scallops with XO sauce arrived and they were as plump, and juicy as expected. The only fault was that the XO was a little dry, and there was a little bit too much mung bean vermecilli for my liking, but I think I’m just nit-picking.

The dim sum platter contained 2 x Har Gow Prawn Dumpings, 2 x Scallop Shu Mai with caviar, 2 Mushroom dumplings and 2 other fish (?) dumplings. Quality was superb, pastry light, thin and not sticky. Compared with some of the horrible YumCha/Dimsum I have eaten in London, it was SO good.

Salt and Pepper squid was hands down the best I have ever eaten. And trust me, this is said after comparing against some some tough competition (Sorry Luke, Red Lantern’s Muc has been pushed to second – for now at least). What was so interesting was that the thin barely-coating-the-squid batter that was so light, airey, crisp and oil free. That combined with perfectly tender cooked squid – tastebud heaven!

Now aside from the fact that we were absolutely stuffed, we greedily salivated when our mains arrived.  Our Lobster cooked in a claypot braised in a Royal stock was tasty, noodles well cooked, and even though we took our time to eat it all, even at the end the dish was piping hot. And at 6-7 pounds/100g, it was definately worth it.

Our Black Sea Cod was super fantastic and reminded me of the texture of the most delicate chinese steamed fish – only it was braised (in a butter stock) not steamed. Though a generous portion I guess at the price, it was fairly expensive, but regardless I would probably order it again without hesitation.

We ended the meal with a coconut cheesecake (and yet another glass of Louis Roderer) which I remember to be nice, but the fact that I don’t remember detail, it mustn’t have been outstanding.

Overall a fabulous meal and being our first time at Hakkasan, will definitely be a memorable one.

I have a horrible feeling that Hakkasan is going to be my new benchmark for fine Chinese cuisine. Not that that’s entirely a bad thing, as I’ll frequent the restaurant as often as I can – it’s just that unfortunately I already know that few other restaurants will be able to measure up…

Service: 8/10
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10

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